Saturday, October 26, 2013

Spark Student Motivation: Table Points & Boo-Ing

Table Points

I've always been blessed to have a rather large classroom--until moving to Florida. I love, love, love my new school, but man my classroom is TINY compared to my other room. I have 25 students and 2 small group tables, meaning my partner and I constantly try to re-arrange to make more space. I definitely believe in table work so students can interact with one another and have deep discussions, but that becomes a problem when you have that *one* kid that just needs to sit by himself. You know the one... the one you get phone calls from concerned parents about--"Ms. Lopez, I know {insert name} just needs some extra love and attention, but I'd rather him not sit by my child." When this happens 3-4 times, you begin to run out of spaces to put that special friend who hasn't learned to control himself. Or the other kids who would talk to a wall, and need a space of their own just for a bit to shut their mouths! cool off and reflect. Yeah. I don't have that extra space. I have do a little dance jig to maneuver from one side of the room to the other. It's like a jigsaw puzzle when I attempt to walk around and check out what the kiddos are doing. But you get the point. Small room, too many friendly friends, and so on.
With that being said, table points work GREAT. I made these last year to go along with my Hollywood theme, and have been using them ever since. At the beginning of each week, table points start over. I tend to use them for situations such as these:
--"I'm looking for the first time to SILENTLY put away these reading journals and get their math materials out on their desks."
--"I'm looking for the tables that are showing me how we do partner discussions... for those tables who are asking appropriate questions and responding respectfully."
--"I'm looking for the table that looks the most organized so they can line up first."
For situations such as "the first table..." that group gets a star next to their table number and the other groups clap. That little clap followed by that little star sure does motivate the other tables! You would think that star was worth a million bucks! When I'm wanting all tables to do group discussions, it is possible 1 or all can earn a star.
First thing Monday morning, right after changing jobs, we look at the Hollywood Star Points and I give $3 to each member of that group, from our classroom Hollywood bucks. Man do those babies get a big grin on their faces!

Boo to You!

Friday was a regular school day. My students were in the middle of their reading assessment while I was calling students up individually for fluency practice, when all of a sudden there was a super loud knock on the door--completely disturbing the quiet testing atmosphere. Not annoyed at all, I opened the door to see no little person standing there, but a bat basket filled with ring-pops and spider rings instead, and a note with a ghost saying we'd been BOO-ed!

 SUCH a fun idea! My students were slightly distracted for a little bit, but once the excitement was over, they were able to focus again with great excitement for the rest of the day. The poem here is too cute, and spreads Halloween cheer around the school. Be sure if you participate at your school to actually put out the little ghost on your door, unless you want to receive 2 buckets of fun, like I did. I thought I was extra special, but then learned I didn't follow the directions. :)
Okay, my friends, be sure to go link up with Joanna for this super fun Saturday linky! :)
Look at my little sweetie here... we sure did have a long day! Enjoy the rest of your weekend. :)

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Workshop Wednesday: Reading Tricks & Treats

Happy Wednesday, friends! I just woke up from a lovely 2 hour nap and feel GREAT! Since I'm new to my county this year I had to take an ethics training class that started at 8:30 and just so happened to let out at 10:30 today. I took full advantage of the situation and picked up lil' sweetie early from daycare and have snuggled with her all day. My kiddos shall survive. :)

I'm now linking up with Jivey for her Workshop Wednesday: Reading Tricks & Treats!
On a normal basis, I have to *trick* my students into writing anything worth reading. If not, what they write is not a *treat* and I get about 2.5 sentences if I'm lucky, and even then it's as if the concept of punctuation is a foreign concept--even though I do everything but beat it into their heads.
Because of their reluctance, I incorporate writing into almost all the reading lessons we do. Very rarely do I teach a writing lesson in isolation. These last 2 weeks we have been working on sequence of events using bat texts. I have already shared how I got my students to write informative paragraphs by creating a bat craftivity. You can read about that {here}, or download the bat freebie template by clicking on the picture below.

Before using our batty text, I introduced sequence of events by showing students how to use a flop map to show their morning routines. To be clear, I told them we all know we use the restroom in the morning and didn't need to include that events. :)

We first used our basal text to read Bat Loves the Night, which is a narrative nonfiction text. We read through the text once together, then slowed it down and read one page at a time so I could model how to find the sequence of events. This particular text told several events that Bat did on each page. So after re-reading the text, we made a list together of all the events Bat did. We discussed how it would be best to combine all these events into compound sentences using conjunctions, instead of having so many simple sentences. See how I got that writing lesson in there?! Students used sticky notes to write out their sequence paragraph from each page in the text... which I guess I forgot to take a picture of, but they LOVED that! They didn't even realize they were writing full paragraphs on sticky notes for each page or 2 of the text. They used the sticky notes to form a flow map by drawing arrows after each note.

After modeling this for about 2 pages of the text, I had students discuss the steps we were using in the process of writing a sequence of events paragraph. This required them to actually process what they were doing.

1. Re-read the text
2. List the events from the text
3. Combine the events to make compound sentences that flow together
4. Re-read your paragraph

After my students could identify the process and steps they go through, it's as if all light bulbs went off and they were ready to rock and roll! They completed a few more sticky notes with their partners to add to their flow maps, and the next day they were all set to use their narrative nonfiction leveled readers and graphic organizers to write out the sequence of events... in paragraph form!

To review this skill next week, we'll be using sequencing task cards as a part of our stations. The students will be engaged using the game board that is included, so it's a win-win for all!

Sometimes tricking students into reading or writing is the way to go--they won't even realize they're doing tons of quality work if you disguise it! Be sure to share your ideas and link up with Jivey!

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tried it Tuesday & Monday Truth

My Truth Monday

Here are the weights... last night I did a crossfit type workout with these babies, and my arms feel like jello. Such a good feeling!

Click the link below to join up. Be someone else's support system today! :)



Tried it Tuesday

Last week I had a full day of parent conferences. I have one student in particular who doesn't turn in homework "on the reg," and his mom doesn't enforce it as much as she used to because he gives her such a hard time about it. We all know that students need to do homework and WANT to succeed on their own, but until they arrive at this stage, we have to help them and provide motivation. With that being said, I'm TRYING a contract for this sweetie. I actually just sent it home with him today, because the first part begins at home, then carries over to school.

He gets points for each part of his homework he completes, and more importantly, for how well he does on his homework. If he doesn't give mom any problems, he earns two points. If he gives her the slightest problem--zero points. Mom has to initial after she checks the box, so I'm sure SHE actually checked it. :) Also, he gets a point for getting his planner signed, completing his morning work, and then has a possibility of earning 5 points based on his effort throughout the day.

He can earn a total of 12 points during the day. If he does earn the full 12 points, he will receive 5 Hollywood Bucks. 10 points equals $4 and so on... my kids seriously LOVE earning classroom money and then buying coupons. You can click on the picture below to read more about that!

Be sure to click on the picture to link up with Holly!

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Monday, October 21, 2013

Teacher Workday Productivity: Bats, Fluency Packets & a Flash Freebie!

Friday was the last day of the first grading period, meaning today we had a teacher workday. And by teacher workday, I mean we had just that--a day to work on whatever we WANTED! In NC these so-called workdays were filled with professional developments ALL dang day, so I can't begin to tell you how exciting it is to have a day to myself. Man, I got a lot done!

Last week we started reading informative texts about bat. This was a book a student found in the school library that happened to fit right along, so I read it to the class as a read aloud.

While students were reading independently, I gave them each a bat bubble map to pull out details about bats. They LOVED writing inside of the bats, instead of simply on a regular bubble map. (Click on the picture below to download a copy for yourself!)

After students recorded information about bats from their textbooks, they shared details with their partners and then I modeled how to write an informative paragraph using my favorite details. Students then wrote their own paragraphs and got to make the cool bats you saw hanging in the hallway. I downloaded a template from TpT for $2, I believe. You can click {here} to go to that link. It was a simple cut, glue together, color lightly, write your final draft and glue on googlie eyes kind of activity!

Fluency Fun

When I taught 4th grade I didn't focus way too much on fluency. With my lower students I did, but not as a class approach. I'm finding this year with my 3rd graders, they need a lot more direct instruction than I'm used to. I found a 3rd grade fluency packet by Ashleigh on TpT. The first 2 weeks I sent home one page per week, but decided I'd like to have a better system in place, so I made each student their own fluency folder. I went to Wal-Mart in hopes of purchasing pronged folders, but once I saw they were $2 each, my cheap-teacher mode kicked in and I refused to pay $50 for folders! Instead, I hole-punched manila folders, glued on a front cover, and used brass prongs to keep the fluency sheet together.

 Each student has a graph when they first open their folders to keep track of their progress. This is probably my favorite part! I send the packets home on Mondays so students can read their passage with their parents. Parents time their kids for one minute and record how many words they read. They do this 3 times per night. Each Friday I call each student back and have them read to me for one minute. I give them a blank reading passage and take notes on their sheets. I made a notebook to keep myself organized.

I put one set of passage in page protectors. These are the ones I had students to read to me while I annotate on their copies.

 The next set is simply hole-punched and stuck in the back. This way, if I happen to get a new student or need to make an extra packet, I don't have to pull anything out of page protectors.
Here's the final stack!

Race to 1,000: An addition and subtraction game

My kiddos needed some extra practice with adding and subtracting so I whipped up this game for them to play with a partner.

Just for making your way to the end of this long post, I'm having a flash freebie of this new product. Click on either of the pictures above to download it now... but hurry!

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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Fall Freebie!

Happy Fall, my friends!

I'm sad that the weather here in Florida doesn't quite feel fall-ish yet--not even a little bit. Back home in NC I hear about friends wearing sweaters and scarves and I'm a tad bit jealous. But--I decorated my house anyway and made a fall math freebie for you all to enjoy!

The station can be played as an addition or multiplication game using these games cards. There are 2 pages of pumpkin cards, 0-12. I print 2 sets for each group so they have a total of 32 cards.

This is the game board students use to play. Each player needs a game piece, such as a chip or token. How cool would it be to let students use the candy corn pumpkins as game pieces, and each time they get to move their pumpkin, they get to eat a small piece of candy corn? Talk about cavities incentives!

And this is the recording sheet that keeps the students accountable. There is one for multiplication and addition. 
This game is free in my TpT store, so just click on any of the pictures above to snatch it up. Included is a color version as well as a black/white version. Enjoy, my friends, and happy Fall!

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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Boot Camp Multiplication + Daily 5

I envy you people who find time to blog frequently. I looked at my blog the other night and thought holy moly! It's almost been a month?! I figured it was about time to do some updating!

This month we start multiplication lessons and the beloved multiplication facts. I remember when I was in 3rd grade and earned ice cream scoops each time I mastered a set of facts, with the promise of a real ice cream party should my entire class ever learn all their facts. I bet you can guess whether I got any ice cream. :) Thinking back to this, I wanted multiplication to be more engaging for my students, so I did what any good educator would do, and looked for a pre-made unit on TpT! Luckily for me, I found this:
I already LOVE the idea of anything boot-camp-ish as my previous school did thematic reviews for end of year testing, and boot camp seemed to always be the popular theme. Plus my husband is military, so camo if a fashion statement I'm familiar with.
On Monday, we kicked off the theme by dressing in our camouflage attire and rocking the greens all day. I personally loved waking up on a Monday and not looking a tad bit professional! :) And yes, this is so totally a bathroom picture, taken in my still not decorated bathroom. Don't judge.
So, in this packet of wonderfulness are many games, drills, table signs (such as Alpha, Bravo company, etc.) dog tags and general ideas for having your own boot camp. I highly recommend doing this if you want a fun way to introduce multiplication!
These are the dog tags that were included in the packet that a fabulous parent of mine laminated and cut out for me. The beads are earned for each set of facts students earn a 90 or 100 on.

The drills are kept in simple black containers such as these. Each set has their own cup, and when I call a table, students go pick up the drill they are working on. They write their names and the date on the back, and when I announce "Go!" they have 30 seconds to complete the 10 questions. Students then graph their results, which I LOVE! So far my students are doing well and LOVE the theme!
Now... onto Daily 5. Perhaps I should call it Daily 3, because that's all I seem to make it to. This is my first year implementing Daily 5/3, and if there's anything I've noticed, it's that every teacher does it differently. I decided to create notebooks for each of my students using the supplies you see below. For the read to self and read to someone, I created very basic reading logs for them to glue in these sections, just for accountability reasons. It's more for my benefit so I can make sure they're doing what they should be.  

As for a schedule, I came up with one late one night and have tried to have my kids make it to these 3 stations AT LEAST! Each student has a copy of this schedule, with their name highlighted. They do an excellent job transitioning, and I LOVE that each student gets small group these 3 days. That's the benefit of co-teaching, I guess! We do also try to squeeze it in on Friday, as well. If you click on the picture you will be able to see it in a larger version. :)

If you have any other ideas to share on how you make Daily 5 work, please do share!

I'll leave you with Paco-Taco, who goes everywhere we do, per request of Lilly. I think we have become "those" people. :) The things you do for your kids...

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